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Mr Toad

John Bayley, 20 October 1994

Evelyn Waugh 
by Selina Hastings.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 600 pp., £20, October 1994, 1 85619 223 7
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... The letter was from Joyce Gill, whom Evelyn had known as Joyce Fagan when he was an undergraduate. Selina Hastings quotes it in her biography without any particular comment, but something in her style and approach shows how much she is aware of its import. For this is a biography of such exceptional perception and sympathy that it quite revived my own ...

No more alimony, tra la la

Miranda Carter: Somerset Maugham, 17 December 2009

The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham 
by Selina Hastings.
John Murray, 614 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 7195 6554 0
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... of his books had been sold, he was a media celebrity and a very rich man. He had also lived, as Selina Hastings says, ‘much of his life under cover’. He went to great lengths to erase evidence of his private life, systematically destroying his personal papers, asking friends to burn his letters, and instructing his executors to discourage would-be ...


Rosemary Hill: Rosamund Lehmann’s Disappointments, 8 August 2002

Rosamond Lehmann 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 476 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 6542 1
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... but it seems unlikely he did. Lehmann later said that she was always in love with her father, and Selina Hastings confirms that her parents’ relationship set the psychological pattern for the rest of her life. She was attracted to men who loved her too little, repulsed by anything that smacked of the ‘unfeminine’ in women – it seems to have been ...


Alan Brien, 5 December 1985

Orson Welles 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 562 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78476 5
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The Making of ‘Citizen Kane’ 
by Robert Carringer.
Murray, 180 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7195 4248 0
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Spike Milligan 
by Pauline Scudamore.
Granada, 318 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12275 7
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Nancy Mitford 
by Selina Hastings.
Hamish Hamilton, 274 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 241 11684 8
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Rebel: The Short Life of Esmond Romilly 
by Kevin Ingram.
Weidenfeld, 252 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 297 78707 1
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The Mitford Family Album 
by Sophia Murphy.
Sidgwick, 160 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 283 99115 1
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... example, Spike takes two children on holiday to Winchelsea: One of the places they visited was Hastings Castle. They lived in a rented cottage and were looked after by a kindly Australian woman called Elizabeth Wiltshire. Spike wrote in his diary: ‘She was like a mother to them.’ End of story. No further reference in the book to ...

Fed up with Ibiza

Jenny Turner: Sybille Bedford, 1 April 2021

Sybille Bedford: An Appetite for Life 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 432 pp., £35, November 2020, 978 1 78474 113 6
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... scrapes. It has been common among Bedford fans to assume that Lisa was English, but according to Selina Hastings in her new biography she wasn’t. She was German, from Hamburg, and at least partly Jewish (‘I never learned how partly, nor through whom. Nobody cared much, or had to – happy days’). Her mother, Bedford once said, ‘instilled into me ...

Victory by Simile

Andrea Brady: Phillis Wheatley’s Evolution, 4 January 2024

The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet’s Journeys through American Slavery and Independence 
by David Waldstreicher.
Farrar, Straus, 480 pp., £24, March 2023, 978 0 8090 9824 8
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... Wheatley wrote a bold letter of introduction – the wax sealed with her initials – to Selina Hastings, countess of Huntingdon. Huntingdon was the patron of a network of Methodist preachers and chapels whose evangelism ‘bridged classes and reached out to natives and Africans’. She was also a friend of George Whitefield, a charismatic ...

Negative Equivalent

Iain Sinclair: In the Super Sewer, 19 January 2023

... bunch of wild swimmers who used to brave the elements in all seasons now appear on the shingle in Hastings, it is only to make a protest, to hold up angry words painted on their surfboards. Southern Water, the authority responsible, has failed to make serious investment in renewing and repairing inadequate pipes. Streets are regularly deluged. Streams flow ...

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